As some of you know, my April A to Z challenge is off schedule due to moving.
The kitchen before….
As some of you know, my April A to Z challenge is off schedule due to moving.
The kitchen before….
For the A to Z challenge my sister Femke challenged me with the letter S for Sister. Although I’m two days late, because I don’t have an internet connection in my new house as yet, I’d still like to make up for it.
My big sister:
I was born in 1974 in my parents’ house, when my sister was already 7 years old. She had to spend this memorable Mother’s Day at the neighbors.
I read somewhere that older sisters like to treat their younger siblings as dolls. I don’t remember if that was the case. We were probably very cute together tough.
One of the first memories I have of my sister, or of life in general, was that she was doing all kinds of weird educational stuff, like visiting the museum and learning macramé. I wondered what all this fuss was about. I must have been around 4 years old.
Soon the jealousy started. I must have been terrible. I wasn’t jealous of her, but of all the things that she was allowed to do while I “always had to do what my parents told me”. While I had to go to bed when the sun disappeared behind the mountain, on holidays in Italy, she could stay up and go to the camping disco. While I had to stay home, she could go out with her friends. While I had to wear whatever was in my closet, she received an allowance for clothes. And so on. It never really struck me that it was only logical that an 8-year-old girl was not allowed to do the same stuff as a 15-year-old. It was just unbelievably ridiculous! It also never occurred to me that I probably had privileges she could be jealous of, like not doing the dishes, no homework etc. Like I said, I must have been terrible. The fact that both of us are slightly stubborn and flammable did not help. In spite of these sisterly issues, we always loved each other, we were each other’s only sister.
When I was around 18 years old I moved out to live on my own in the town center, very close to my sister. That’s when the party started. All of a sudden 7 years of age difference didn’t seem to matter that much. FV senior and FV junior shared drinks, parties, a lot of laughter and a healthy interest in the opposite sex. Eating soap, flirting with Johnny Lederhosen or Jeroen Darling, taking the bus to Tossa de Mar with partner in crime C(n)or, bringing red wine in a backpack or making trouble on October 3rd (Leidens Ontzet, the day our hometown was liberated from the Spanish), it was always fun. Well, almost always. We once stayed home with tears in our eyes after watching Schindler’s List in the movies.
When the best nephew ever Jesse was born, I went with Fem and her husband on holiday, back to where we spent our childhood holidays too. Soon after that I started travelling and moved to some faraway places and we don’t speak to each other as often as I would like to. Here we are together with her son Jesse and my baby Makeda, in 2006:
But Fem, even though we are far apart I always think about you and love you to pieces! I couldn’t have a better sister. Sometimes I wonder… Could you be? The most beautiful girl in the world? 😉
For the A to Z challenge, Yurena challenged me with the letter
for Life Long Learning. Or Life Long making mistakes and Learning from it. I love to learn, especially by making mistakes. My family is still teasing me that I always wanted to do everything my way, by myself. Stubborn, but eager to learn.
I’m very bad with dates, but this list must be more or less correct 😀
I wish I had more pictures, but many of them are still in Holland.
1974 – I learned how to be the best Mother’s Day present ever.
1975 – I already learned horseback riding.
1976 – I…. learned something for sure.
1977 -I learned that la vita è bella in Italia.
1978 – I learned to always check if you’re wearing underwear under your dress before you go on the swing.
1979 – I learned that it is freaking cold outside when the kindergarten teacher puts you on time-out in the garden because of your temper.
1980 – I learned to always bring gloves on a summer holiday.
1981 – I learned how to oppose to Oilily dresses and braided hair.
1982 – I probably learned something with this:
1983 – I learned from my father not to put your fingers in a wood cutting machine.
1984 – I learned horseback riding on a real horse and being pretty good at it.
1985 – I learned that Christmas-tree salesmen grow a lot when eating Brinta.
1986 – I learned that my parents could easily persuade me into “choosing” a school with a horse skull and an embryo.
1987 – I learned that 20-year old sisters have a lot more “privileges” than teenagers.
1988 – I learned how to sing Eternal Flame and not to sleep for four nights in a row on long volleyball weekends.
1989 – I learned that partying and doing good at school do not go hand in hand.
1990 – I learned how not to change a cooking gas tank. Again:
1991 – I learned how to make a fool out of myself into an art.
1992 – I learned to appreciate good music and good concerts.
1993 – I learned that a seven-year older sister in much cooler when you’re 19 than when you’re 13.
1994 – I learned to choose something different.
1995 – I learned how to act cool, calm and collected being lost in the streets of Tossa de Mar in a bathing suit, air mattress under the arm.
1996 – I learned that Italian babies can speak Italian better than I do after two years of study.
1997 – I learned to play a team sport.
1998 – I learned to appreciate peeing in my wetsuit in winter time. At least I did not wear a drysuit.
1999 – I learned that translating a novel requires a lot of sitting on my ass.
2000 – I learned to lie for money (some call it working as a market researcher).
2001 – I learned I will never work at a call centre again.
2002 – I learned that snowboarding needs not to be done recklessly.
2003 – I learned to survive on my own in Turkey, Bali, the Dominican Republic, the Antilles, Greece, Portugal, Austria & many more and make money with it too.
2004 – I learned that working as a scuba diving instructor in Thailand is paradise, even if people puke on you.
2005 – I learned which bars on Curacao stay open the longest, while working my ass off.
2006 – I started to learn to be a mother out of the blue (ongoing process).
2007 – I learned that Jamaica is a very interesting place, in both good and bad ways.
2008 – I learned to start and run a dive shop.
2009 – I learned that I could finally teach my father something instead of the other way around.
2010 – I learned how to drive a truck and a bus and how to speak papiamentu fluently.
2011 – I learned that I created a supermodel.
2012 – I learned to use a rebreather.
2013 – I learned how to be a swimming coach.
And this year 2014 – So far I am learning a lot about the natural environment in my study at the Open University, I learned that freaky beats are good beats, I learned that pitbulls are sweethearts to people but play ‘too rough’ with doggy friends and much much more. Just follow my blog and you find out.
And for the future, here are 5 wanna-learns (just to start with), in random order:
#1 – How to run a marathon ( I guess the answer is “step by step”)
#2 – How to earn more and work less.
#3 – How to keep my princess out of trouble. I imagine that something like this. Me, myself and I protecting the last white rhino with machine guns.
#4 – How to make wildlife pictures like these:
#5 – How to surf (first lesson planned in Costa Rica)
What do you want to learn? What keeps you going?
My mom challenged me with the letter F in this A to Z challenge. The F for Freedom.
My mom knows me well. She knows I must have many ideas and thoughts on the concept Freedom. She kind of unleashed a stream of thoughts that is so big and thick it can hardly put into words in a single post. I decided to make a picture collage (+ one commercial from the 80’s) of what Freedom means to me. Disclaimer: it’s just a glimpse of my mind. And my mind only. Freedom of Thought. Freedom of Expression.
What does Freedom mean to you?
The downside of living on a 21 km2 island is: there’s no cardiologist.
As a matter of fact, there are hardly any specialists on the island. That’s why a good percentage of Statia’s population is always off-island. For many medical problems you can go to St. Maarten. For more complicated issues it’s Colombia, sometimes Guadeloupe. Sounds nice, huh? Free trip to some other hot place in the Caribbean.
But not so funny after the first week, when you have your family, friends, pets etc. at home. And even less funny after two to three months sitting in your hotel room waiting for the hospital to give you a call. Because that’s how long it often takes in Colombia. Talk about efficiency. Luckily for me I didn’t have to go there.
Once a month a cardiologist from Aruba comes to Statia. For me that meant waiting 2 more weeks. Or I could fly to St. Maarten to see a cardiologist in 2 weeks minus 3 days. Because before that day, no cardiologist was available on St. Maarten either; on St. Maarten there are cardiologists from the Netherlands that fly in for some weeks, but there is not always one there. I realized my type of “urgent” was not the urgent type of urgent.
I agreed with dr. B. that I would take it easy for now, write down exactly what I felt when, and that I would report back to him in 5 days time. In the meantime my heartbeat wasn’t doing anything like normal. Especially in rest, after some activity or before going to sleep, it would beat like crazy. I thought I could have a heart attack any minute. That thought, of course, only makes things worse. What if I just drop dead? What about Makeda? She’s only 8 years old. There’s still so much to do! There’s still so many dreams to live! I prayed to God to please give me some more time. I always thought I’d become 100 years old 😀
Dr. B. told me to call him back on Monday. I called from 9:00 to 4:30 without getting through to him. Great. I wanted to tell him I really wished to see the cardiologist on the 21st on St. Maarten, instead of waiting for the Aruban cardiologist that came on the 24th. One day with scary beats seemed like a week to me. Tuesday morning I went straight to the hospital after dropping Makeda at school. I could see dr. B. right away. The day before he really didn’t have time to call me back.
He agreed that it would be better for me to see the cardiologist in St. Maarten the same week. The good news: the Dutch cardiologist arrived on St. Maarten already. The bad news: St. Maarten hospital ran out of electrodes. REALLY???
Medical record and letter were printed out, box with electrodes was packed, nurse came in to tell me my flight was at 11:30. What?! Left a message with my boyfriend’s boss, called my superhero friends to take care of Makeda after school, called the teacher and asked her to explain Makeda in a gentle way that I had to go to St. Maarten today, kickstarted my scooter, drove home with the box of electrodes between my knees, packed a bag (Dr. B. couldn’t tell me if I was coming back today), drove with a box of electrodes between my knees and a backpack to the SVK office to pick up my ticket and arrived at the airport at 11:15 for the 11:30 flight. Again, only on Statia!
Almost a week without a post. I was busy. Busy worrying. About my heart. And visiting the doctor and the cardiologist. But I’m still alive, and kicking again.
Five or six weeks ago I noticed that my heart was making strange, deep beats
that I never felt before that I had felt before on occasion but now became more and more. Not just one or two, but a lot, and getting more and more intense.
Especially in the evening before going to bed and during work. It started to worry me. At first I thought it had something to do with this never-ending cold, I was coughing my lungs out. But even when the giant cold passed, the palpitations (I know doctor-lingo now) persisted. One day at work it was so bad, I excused myself and went straight to the hospital. “The hospital” sounds worse than it is. Since there is no other/normal doctor’s post on the island, “the hospital” is the place to be for every minor itch or bump. The nurse almost scheduled me for the next week, but I think I looked pretty stressed out when I told her I wanted to see him “Now!” I was in the doctor’s office half an hour later.
Dr. B., whose real name always reminds me of a giant ape (I’m sorry doctor B!!) listened to my heart, did an ECG and decided to give me cardio aspirin, a blood test and a 24-hour holter in the next few days, to monitor my heart rhythm for a longer period of time. There was irregular beating. I knew that. (See my previous post Dr. Beat)
The timing of the 24-hour holter was just perfect. Monday at 9:00 was the first possibility for a holter. Tuesday at 9:10 I had to fly to St. Maarten for an exam. Tuesday morning I checked in at the airport at 8:00, waited at the hospital till the holter was removed at 8:50 and arrived at the airport again at 8:55 for the 9:10 flight. Only on Statia it’s possible to check in on the airport, saying “Hey, I’ll be right back, I just have to run to the hospital to have this thing removed. Don’t leave without me.” There’s a lot of pro’s living on a 21 km2 island.
The blood was good.
The holter showed The computer that analyzes the holter showed an AV block, type 2. An atrioventriculair block, as I learned, is some kind of block in the electrical impulses in the heart. That means the heart sometimes (depending on which type) doesn’t give the impulse to contract properly. Luckily the heart has some kind of escape-mechanism, that “almost always” works. Yay! But Dr. B. of course isn’t a cardiologist, so he wanted me to see a cardiologist “urgently”. I asked Dr. B. what he thought was the solution to the problem. I wish I never asked. “Type 1: don’t do anything. Type 3: pacemaker. Type 2:???” Great.
Makeda just told me I did not only feel like a dead bird, I also acted like a dead bird. Honesty…
For the Daily Prompt WORK, this is one of the many dream jobs I had in my life so far. In 2003-2004, long before I had my first digital camera (so don’t mind the quality of the picture), I was working as a brand new and fresh dive instructor on the tiny Thai island of Koh Lipe, close to the Malaysian border. I was working 7 days a week, but it felt like pure holiday. I was in paradise!!
What was or is your dream job?
Since a week, maybe more, this heart of mine is dancing every now and then. After some feeling & listening by the doctor -not Beat- and some blood tests, today I’m walking around with my own little ‘walkman’.
They gave me a 24-hour holter to monitor my dr~dr~dr~dr~Beat! And some blood thinner to prevent blood clots in interesting places like my brain, because that is not want we want, do we?
Now this is scary! Not the tape and the walkman. The fact that something as obvious as a heart beat starts to have its own life. Hellooooooooo, I’m 39!! – and look like 26 😀 I still need to go at least 61 years!
But what can I do? Wait for the results and hope for the best. Let’s hope I won’t need the night nurse. In the meantime: Let’s dance! In the dark! On the ceiling!
Not dancing yet???
Oh, and if you’re a fan of my heartbeat, check out how I did not have a heart attack.
From St. Eustatius to the world. For all those that have NO CLUE where St. Eustatius a.k.a. Statia a.k.a. the Golden Rock is, here’s a short video about the Dutch, the Dutch Caribbean, Holland, the Netherlands and the Antilles and all kinds of stuff that makes it confusing. Get ready for more confusion 😀